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27-31 August 2019
Poznań, Poland
Europe/Warsaw timezone
programme last update: 23 August 2019
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Contribution Paper

Poznań, Poland - Morasko Kampus, room: 3.132

Identity struggles in postindustrial city: the case of street naming in Łódź, Poland


  • Dr. Magdalena REK-WOŹNIAK

Primary authors


The paper utilizes results of the ongoing study tracking local development debate in Łódź, the third largest city in Poland. Łódź grew rapidly since mid-nineteenth century as a centre of textile industry and island of modernization within a rural society. With highly polarized social structure and strong labour movement, it was labelled: “Manchester of the East” and “red” city. Under communism, despite the establishment of academic and cultural institutions, Łódź remained distinct, with big share of unskilled workers and low quality of life. It was heavily hit throughout post-socialist transformation, gaining the nickname of “Polish Detroit”. Contemporarily, it is in constant search for a new identity. The paper discusses the roles of different actors in the identity struggles triggered by new strategic plans of urban development, inspired by the ideas of “creative economy” and “urban renewal/megaprojects”. This is exemplified by the debate on street-naming policy in the New Centre of Łódź, a new business district in the heart of the city. The study uses relational approach to class analysis examining processes occurring within semi-periphery of the global economy and is grounded in following assumptions: 1.Social classes engage in stratification processes both by everyday practices, participating in struggles over redistribution and/or through the attempts to set frameworks for debates on citizenship, representation etc. These activities can be analysed as “class politics”. 2.Conflicts around local policies gives an opportunity to analyse the social structure as a complex set of relations. Thus, multi-method case studies, are good alternative for traditional quantitative, macrostructural research.